What is the link between domestic violence and homelessness?

37.8 per cent of Specialist Homelessness Services clients last year were escaping domestic and family violence

Last updated 20 Sep 2017

One aspect of the growing awareness in the community of the terrible costs and impacts of domestic and family violence is its impact on homelessness.

Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) assist people who are experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness.
In 2015–16, SHS recorded 105,619 clients that needed help because they had experienced domestic and family violence. This number accounted for for 37.8 per cent of all SHS clients in that year, an increase of over 4 percentage points from 33.7 per cent in 2011–12. In addition, in 2015–16 women aged 18+ escaping domestic violence accounted for nearly a quarter (22.5%) of all SHS clients.

Of those SHS clients recorded as escaping domestic and family violence, 62,751 (or 59.4%) were women aged 18 and older, 36,361 (34.4%) were children aged 17 years and younger and 6,506 (or 6.2%) were men aged 18 and older.

Figure 1: The impact of domestic and family violence on homelessness

Source: AIHW Specialist Homelessness Services 2015-16, Supplementary data tables: Historical data: 2011–12 to 2015–16 

The 2017 National Housing Conference is devoting a number of sessions to this critical issue including a major plenary session, The safe house: the role of housing in domestic and family violence. This session will assess what needs to be done to ensure the supply of safe and secure housing options for those who are vulnerable to domestic and family violence, as well as take stock of current state/territory and federal initiatives. More information can be found on the NHC website.